Eat pokkali rice to conserve water birds, say birders

The Cochin Natural History Society, an NGO, has launched a campaign asking bird enthusiasts to buy pokkali rice from farmers to support the farming and thereby conserving wetlands, the habitat of wetland birds.  

Eat pokkali rice to save wetland bird habitats, exhort birders of Kochi.

The Cochin Natural History Society (CNHS), an NGO dedicated for conservation of birds, has launched a campaign asking bird enthusiasts to buy pokkali rice from farmers of Varapuzha area to support them and thereby conserving wetlands, the habitat of wetland birds.

Pokkali farming is facing crisis in the district with drastic reduction in the extent of farmland. The farming activity itself had become uneconomic forcing the farmers to abandon it, said Vishnupriyan Kartha, secretary of the society.

The CNHS is focusing its attention on Devaswom Padam in Varapuzha, which is one of the favourite wetland birding sites in the district. The presence of around 50 bird species draws birders and nature enthusiasts to this site. The destruction of wetlands will naturally lead to loss of habitat of avian fauna. Sustainable farming is the only way to protect the birds. Hence the campaign, Mr. Kartha said.

The bird species present in the wetland include Little Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Indian Pond Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron and Little Egret. Asian Openbill, Lesser Whistling Duck, White-breasted water hen, Purple Swamp hen, Bronze winged Jacana and Pacific Golden Plover are also found here.

Calling the attention of birders who have been carrying out “birding and photography at Kadamakudi and Devaswom Padam regularly,” a communication from the CNHS urged them to buy pokkali rice to revive the farming. A group of social activists are supporting the farmers by returning the profit from selling pokkali rice procured from them, he said.

Pokkali paddy farmed by the local farmers is converted into rice at a threshing unit and the rice is sold at Rs. 60 a kg. The profit is returned to the farmers as an incentive for engaging in pokkali farming, said Jesudas Varapuzha, one of the activists.

Last year, One quintal rice was thus sold and profit shared among the farmers. There was good demand for pokkali rice and the transportation of rice to the buyers was one hassle faced in its marketing, he said.

The society had been covering the wetlands since 2011 during the Asian water bird census. When the birders assemble here for the next census in January, the members will be encouraged to buy the rice from the farmers.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 2:14:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/eat-pokkali-rice-to-conserve-water-birds-say-birders/article6706971.ece

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